Howdy my lovely peoples! Today’s post is a guest post from Elaine from Mercola.com about what you need to know before taking a supplement.
Before we get into her post, I thought I’d share my view on supplements in a nutshell.
There are a few different kinds of supplements: synthetic, food-based and whole-food supplements. Synthetic vitamins, which Elaine will talk more about in a bit, are basically JUST the nutrient they advertise (cal/mag is JUST cal/mag from a synthetic source). Food-based vitamins (like Rainbow Light) have some food components added to make them more easily assimilated in to your own body. Whole Food vitamins (like Megafood and New Chapter) are made from food– and when you take them, your body absorbs nutrition in a way that’s similar to eating whole foods.
I take a few whole food supplements on a regular basis for my general health (and more than a few to support athletic performance, but that’s another blog post) including Blood Builder from Megafood. I believe that whole food supplements can be a valuable ADDITION to a balanced whole food diet and that this is something to chat about with your health coach, naturopath, or your doctor.
Without further ado…
What You Need to Know Before Taking a Supplement
Supplements are a part of many people’s lives today, especially in the United States. Sixty percent of Americans take a dietary supplement, and over 17 billion dollars are spent on supplements each year.
If taken appropriately, supplements can be a good addition to your diet. If you are prone to eating processed foods or aren’t getting enough nutrients from what you eat, then taking a supplement, such as a multivitamin, can be a smart idea.
But with the wide variety of supplements available today, how do you know which one will work best for you?
When It Comes to Supplements, More Is Not Necessarily Better
Many supplement makers try to attract consumers by telling them that their supplements contain a wide array of nutrients. They convince people that the more nutrients they take, the better.
But may not necessarily be the case. In fact, it’s not necessarily the amount of a nutrient you ingest that is crucial, but rather its form and how bioavailable it is. What’s more, ingesting single nutrients may actually produce imbalances in your body.
There are also some types of nutrients that need to be carefully measured to avoid any potential toxic buildup in your body. For example, did you know that taking an elemental calcium supplement in amounts of 500 milligrams or more may actually have adverse effects on your cardiovascular health?
Even more alarming is that many low-quality supplements today are made from synthetic isolates, which do NOTHING for your health.
What Are Synthetic Isolates?
If you regularly purchase cheap supplements or multivitamins from discount stores, then you may be seriously short-changing yourself. These low-quality products usually contain synthetic isolates or synthetic vitamins.
Synthetic vitamins are partial vitamins that have been combined with other chemicals. They are a low-end replacement to whole, real, complete food. There is nothing natural about them – they are never found by themselves in nature.
Here are specific reasons why synthetic vitamins are NOT recommended for you:
- They are not balanced at all – they usually supply you with massive quantities of some nutrients (commonly the cheap ones), but insufficient quantities of others.
- Only a small percentage of the isolated vitamins and minerals is absorbed and used by your body.
- There is a high chance that the additives in the synthetic vitamins and the unnatural state of the synthetic supplement can cause side effects.
- The human body is intended to consume food in its whole form, not isolated. This is because in whole foods, all the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants are packed together and work synergistically to provide your body with the nutrition it requires.
According to studies, isolated and synthetic nutrients are treated by your body as xenobiotics or foreign substances. And, like drugs, they can create problems for you, too.
Characteristics of a High-Quality Supplement
If you want to take a supplement to complement your diet, you must do your homework carefully. Look for a supplement that is:
- As close as possible to its natural form – it contains whole food nutrients, not synthetic isolates
- It comes from a reputable and trustworthy manufacturer
- Utmost care has been taken in all phases of the production – from growing the ingredients, manufacturing, to testing for potency and quality control
Ideally, you should look for a company that has a long track record of providing high-quality products.
However, supplements are only an addition to your diet – they cannot take the place of healthful, organic foods. Instead of buying and taking supplements, make healthy eating your top priority.
About the AuthorElaine R. is a writer for Mercola.com. She is conducting in-depth research on multivitamin benefits. She visits various online health resources for additional information on this topic.
Do you take any supplements? How did you decide you needed to take them? Feel free to share in the comments below.
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I occasionally may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. However, I only recommend products or services I believe in and trust.